Reducing plastic wastes is a thing that we should do together in order to get it right. What we dump at one location in the earth could spread by the sea, dissolved into our soil, and affect another location—soon or fast, near or far.
So, it’s only natural if we pay attention to what other countries plan and do in this continuous effort in reducing plastic waste. Who knows? We might learn something from it, be inspired by it, and we could also express what we have to say about it.
In the event of Plastic Free July, we have picked several recent plastic-related news from around the world. Read on, and we surely hope that the spirit will pass on.
China Plastic Import Ban
- Reported since 1992, China has accepted about 106 million metric tons of plastic waste, which is nearly half of the world’s plastic waste imports. But in 2017, China passed a policy that permanently bans the import of non-industrial plastic waste as of January 2018. “Plastic waste was once a fairly profitable business for China, because they could use or resell the recycled plastic waste,” said Amy Brooks, a doctoral student in University of Georgia’s College of Engineering. “But a lot of the plastic China received in recent years was poor quality, and it became difficult to turn a profit. China is also producing more plastic waste domestically, so it doesn’t have to rely on other nations for waste.” (link 1)
- China’s decision to stop accepting plastic waste from other countries is causing plastic to pile up around the globe, and wealthy countries must find a way to slow the accumulation of one of the most ubiquitous materials on the planet, a group of scientists said. (link 2)
- Mountains of plastic waste are piling up in Japan, forcing a rethink on the country’s recycling efforts as China continues to limit imports of the unwanted material to resolve its own pollution crisis. “Plastic is seen by Japanese people as being hygienic and practical in many situations, but we are trying to communicate to them the idea of carrying an eco-friendly bag when they go shopping rather than just taking a new plastic bag each time,” said Akiko Tsuchiya, who campaigns for better public awareness of plastic pollution with the Japan branch of Greenpeace. (link 3)
- China ban: Thailand moves to send poor quality plastic waste back where it came from. According to reports in Thai media, the government has announced new measures to restrict plastic imports, with the country struggling to cope with increased imports of plastic waste since China shut its doors to “foreign trash” in January. (link 4)
Single-Use Plastic Ban on Some Places
- Dozens of countries have already imposed bans or taxes on single-use plastic bags, including the UK, France, China, and the Netherlands. Kenya has perhaps the harshest law: those who violate the ban face four years in prison or a fine up to $39,000. (link 5)
- On July 9, Starbucks announced that it would eliminate single-use plastic straws in all its branches over the next year. Instead, customers will get a new lid for cold drinks that many have likened to an “adult sippy cup.” (link 6)
- City of Balikpapan in East Kalimantan has officially commenced its latest policy on limiting the use of disposable plastic bags available in retail shops and general shopping areas regulated under Mayor’s Decree No. 8/2018. Balikpapan Mayor Rizal Effendi explained that the regulation was introduced mainly to reduce plastic waste. This is the second city that has officially limited its plastic consumption after Banjarmasin. (link 7)
- Last year Indonesia pledged US$1 billion to cut its marine waste by 70% by 2025. Currently, most bio-plastics derive from terrestrial sources related to the food industry, including corn, sugarcane and cassava. However, according to Bakti Berlyanto Sedayu, a researcher with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, seaweed is a far more sustainable alternative. (link 8)